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    DA Warns Consumers of Charity Solicitation Scams


    In the aftermath of the recent attack in Boston and the disaster in West, Texas, First Judicial District Attorney Peter Weir is warning citizens to be alert to possible charitable fraud.

    As unthinkable as it seems, it is not unusual for there to be fraudulent attempts to solicit donations following a mass tragedy such as what is happening in Boston and in Texas. “When tragedy strikes, people feel compelled to do something to help. They want to donate money where it will do the most good and help the most people,” says Weir, “Most charities are honorable and legitimate, but some are less reputable or even fraudulent. People should take care as they make their giving choices.”

    Charities are exempt from the No-Call List, so consumers may receive calls from telemarketers asking for donations. We also see email becoming a more popular method of solicitations for charitable contributions. Regardless of how you are contacted, do your homework before you make your giving decisions:

    • Learn what you can about the charity. Ask for written information to be sent to you. The information should contain the company name, address, telephone number, information concerning how the money will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible. If it is not tax deductible, it is not a charity.
    • If a charity won’t provide the information, or provides only vague answers, you may want to consider supporting another charity.
      Verify the information with the Better Business Bureau and the Secretary of State. You can obtain a reliability report from the Better Business Bureau at www.denverbbb.org or 303-758-2100. The Secretary of State can be reached at www.sos.state.co.us under the section called Licensing Center, or call 303-894- 2200 press 2. 
    • Watch out for similar-sounding names. Fraudulent companies might use a name that sounds very similar to a legitimate charity in order to confuse you and capitalize on the confusion. Be certain that you are donating to your intended charity. Verify all information.
    • There is information online that can help you make informed decisions. One resource that can help you select a charity you trust is www.charitynavigators.com.
    • Find out how your money will be spent. Determine what percentage will go to administrative fees and fundraising and how much goes to those in need. The telemarketer must provide you with this information.
    • Be wary of someone claiming to be with a charity requesting cash, credit card or social security number. Or if they ask to send a person directly to your home to obtain the money. 
    • Refuse high-pressure appeals. Colorado law allows consumers three days to cancel your pledge. Cancellation might be hard to do if someone has already come to your home and picked up your check.  


    For more information or if you have concerns, contact your local police or sheriff’s economic crime unit. In Jefferson County you can contact law enforcement, DA Fraud Hotline at 303-271-6980, or the DA’s Fraud Specialist at 303-271-6931.

    Pam Russell
    DA Public Information

    June 19, 2013

    Last Updated: 6-7-2013
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